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Truck Yard

When Is a Yard Not a Yard?

Jan. 22, 2021
FMCSA seeks to define the term in regard to HOS regulation.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is proposing to specifically define the word “yard” in regard to what is considered and not considered driving time under the hours-of-service regulations for interstate truck drivers.

The precise definition did not become an issue in anyone’s mind until 2015 when the agency adopted its electronic logging device (ELD) rules. At that time, FMCSA said that a “yard move’’ of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) should be recorded as “on-duty not driving time” rather than as driving time for the purposes of enforcing drivers’ federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. However, when it did so, the agency also failed to explicitly define what it meant by a “yard.”

In the proposed guidance intended to deal with the issue that FMCSA issued Jan. 4, it said that because ‘‘yard moves’’ typically occur on private property within the confines of a yard and not on a public road, the time that the driver spends doing so does not constitute ‘‘driving time’’ within the meaning of the regulations.

To avoid any further confusion in the future, the agency proposes adoption of these examples of properties that may qualify as yards, which it says include but are not limited to:

1. An intermodal yard or port facility.

2. A motor carrier’s place of business.

3. A shipper’s privately-owned parking lot.

4. A public road, but only if and while public access to the road is restricted through traffic control measures such as lights, gates, flaggers, or other means. For example, if a driver must operate on a public road briefly to reach different parts of a private property, the movement may be considered a yard move if public access is restricted during the move.

FMCSA added that examples of properties that it believes do not qualify as yards can include but are not limited to public roads without traffic and control measures, and public rest areas.

“This guidance, if finalized, lacks the force and effect of law and is not meant to bind the public in any way,” FMCSA pointed out. “This guidance document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding the agency’s interpretation of its existing regulations.”

Public comments are due by Feb. 4. to help the agency determine whether any further clarification of these regulatory provisions is necessary, or even to help FMCSA decide it should not proceed any further. In addition, FMCSA said it is seeking answers to the following questions:

• Would defining “yard moves” in the agency’s regulations provide necessary clarification and therefore benefit carriers and drivers?

• Are there other properties or situations where drivers may be in a “yard move” status that should be included as examples in this guidance?

• Would adding examples of “yard moves” be beneficial for this guidance (e.g., moving a CMV for maintenance)? If so, please provide examples for consideration.

• How should “yard” be defined for the purposes of this guidance?

Additional information about the proceeding is available in the Federal Register notice posted by FMCSA.

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